While the media and plenty of Boston Bruins fans are speculating on his future with the Bruins, goalie Linus Ullmark is preparing to head to Nashville from his native Sweden for the NHL Awards ceremony next Monday.
After going 40-6-1 with a 1.89 GAA and a .938 save percentage in his second season with the Boston Bruins, Ullmark, was named a Vezina Trophy finalist on Thursday along with Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck and New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin.
Linus Ullmark led the NHL in wins (40), goals-against average (1.89), and save percentage (.938), becoming just the eighth goalie in NHL history to lead the league in all three categories and the first since Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price did it in 2014-15, in essentially capturing the triple crown for goaltenders. Ullmark also teamed with Jeremy Swayman to allow the fewest goals in the NHL this season and won the Jennings Trophy as the league’s best goaltending tandem.
Appearing on the ‘Leafs Morning Take Podcast’ Monday with host Nick Alberga, and Ullmark’s former goaltending partner with the Buffalo Sabres, Carter Hutton, Ullmark credited a happy family life and longtime Boston Bruins goalie coach Bob Essensa for what was an amazing leap forward in his NHL career.
“There was a lot of things,” Ullmark replied when asked him to go from never winning more than 17 games in his first three NHL seasons with the Buffalo Sabres to 26 and then 40 wins with the Boston Bruins. “Obviously, you can’t just pick and choose; it’s not that simple. I think most things for me, at least, being a family guy, I love being around the family. You spend so much time being away from the family that when your family’s doing well and you don’t have to worry about the situations that are going on off the ice, you can put more emphasis and more focus on what you’re actually doing.
So that happened this year where my whole family was thriving. My wife Moa was having the time of her life; the kids were going to school as well, and it just felt like we were right at home, and there was no extra energy taken away from me when I was on the ice. So, I felt the same thing during the COVID year when I was just thinking about myself and you’re just playing hockey. So, that’s the only thing you’re doing because my family was back home in Sweden. So you’re like ‘this is how it feels when I don’t want to have to worry’ so it was kind of a situation where it felt familiar but it was all very welcoming in the same sense.”
On the ice and around the rink, Essensa was the difference for Ullmark.
“Working together with ‘ Goalie Bob’, goalie coach Bob Essensa, which has been a terrific thing for me at least,” Ullmark said of the Bruins’ longtime goalie coach. “I’ve had a lot of great goalie coaches throughout my career, but there’s something about that big fella that feels right. We work very well on a personal level, and for me, that’s a huge part of it. When you can set high standards, and you know exactly what to expect out of each other, there’s no bullshitting coming out of your mouths when it comes to when you’re looking at games in perspective or you’re at games the day after, stuff like that.”